Why I Share about PPD

A number of people have mentioned to me that they have struggled with PPD but have never said anything publically like I have, so I wanted to share a little about why I’ve decided to talk about it.

One of the reasons I share is because the feeling of everyone else having it together (thanks, social media!) while I was struggling was something that made the depression a lot worse and made me feel so alone – but I knew that the idea of everyone else having it easy wasn’t true and didn’t want to contribute to that cycle for others.

Also, what I’ve read from others who decided to share was so helpful to me that I wanted to share what I could. There’s a lot that can be shared and said without going into a lot of details. Some things are too personal, others can be dangerous to say publically, and other things would only have made my struggle worse by causing me to dwell on it or make it part of an identity – God’s child, not depressed, is who I am.

But the biggest reason I share is that I’ve been reading in the Psalms, and they are full of calls to speak about God’s faithfulness, to share about “His strength and His wondrous works that He has done” (Psalm 78:4). The idea that there could be another side, an end to the darkness, and truth to His promises was at times unfathomable but here on the other side, a year after it started getting really bad, the list of how He has been faithful and how He has worked in my life and our family is always growing.

“When my heart was embittered and I was pierced within,
Then I was senseless and ignorant, I was like a beast before You.
(maybe the best scriptural description of PPD?)
Nevertheless,
I am continually with You;
You have taken hold of my right hand.
With Your counsel You will guide me,
And afterward receive me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever…
…as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.”
– Psam 73:21-28

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Words By S, 3

In honor of S’s 3rd birthday, here is the latest installment of “Words by S.” We’re celebrating with cake after our evening church study, her choosing breakfast & dinner on her birthday (pizza for breakfast and enchiladas for dinner), and then there’s a princess tea party happening nearby a few days after her birthday and it’s a perfect fit for our pink-loving little girl.
It’s been amazing to watch her grown and learn in the last year and to see her continue to develop in personality and knowledge. She is exuberant, empathetic, full of wonder, loves being outdoors, and would have us read to her all day long if we could stand it!

“grumblebee” – bumblebee

“Papa I forgot to get on the giraffe and spin on it.” (talking about the carousel)

“There me are!”

“Once upon a time there was a little girl and her name was…”
“S, and Ellie, and Mama, and Papa.”

“You’re welcome.” “I’m not welcome, I’m S.”

“My birthday is pink.”

“What’s your favorite food?”
“Chocolate.”
“What’s your favorite food for dinner?”
“I like to eat chocolate for dinner.”

“Look, Ellie, I drew popsicle on the wall!”

“Is this my pink finger?”

“Did God bought my pajamas?”

“Can you do this as you hike around the tomatoes?”

“I was pink when I was little.”

“Tomatoes make me happy”

“No, krampa, put the ice in the trash!”

“magnick” (magnet)

“blutterfly”

“Papa, I crashed the spider with the salad.”

“Can you heat up my soup so it will be cold?”

“I made room for mommy but not for chocolate.”

“Maybe {my dress} will grow a pocket.”

“puffet” (puppet)

One day she wanted a story about “A pink bride… when S was married and had a husband and wore a pretty dress.”

“S is mommy’s baby and Ellie is papa’s baby.”

“I can’t see the dark, I Just see the lights.”

“floggic” frolic

“Can you give me a chance for me to wear these ones again?”

“The wind won’t blow away my hands, but still.”

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
“I don’t want to be anything when I grow up.”

12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You

“As faithful eyes perceive the unseen glories of God and reborn hearts embrace them, all the visible glories of God in the world seem to thicken in substance. The more eagerly we embrace God, the more gratitude we express for His created gifts for us and the more clearly we begin to discern the sinful distortions and the hollow promises of free sin.”
– Tony Reinke, 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You (page 140).

This idea of the life of faith being about “comprehending the whole when we can see only a fraction” (pg 141), being satisfied with Christ instead of what is seen and temporary – and that transforming our desires, has come up a number of times for me recently in books I have been reading. That tied in with the realization that in order to change phone and food habits saying “no” wasn’t what was needed – changing those desires was.

In looking to God for ultimate, lasting satisfaction –
…I let go of my kids and trust God with them.
…I enjoy my piece of cake without expecting it to be everything I dreamed it would be
…I say no to another piece of cake because I know it’s not going to satisfy me
…I put down my phone, close out of Facebook, don’t open Instagram because He, not social media, is my refuge. He, not likes and comments, is going to feed my soul.

I am still processing Reinke’s book 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You, but I cannot recommend it highly enough. I think it will be required reading for our kids in the first months of allowing them to have social media (whatever that looks like in 10+ years!).
Reinke looks at ways our phones (really social media) changes our relationships with others, and most of all, with God. Even chapters that from the title seemed like ones I could skip ended up being really convicting. I read it slowly over a few months, trying to apply at least something after each chapter. Paging through after finishing it and re-reading my highlights was overwhelming, even before I thought “now that I’ve read this I’m going to be held accountable by God for my phone use even more!”
There are so many “little” comments and challenges in the book, but there is an overarching big picture. This book is about seeking satisfaction in God, and not in social media, phones, the approval of others, etc. And while there are so many rules I could set up or questions I could make myself ask before getting online, I think in the end it boils down to two questions for me:
– Why am I getting on my phone right now?
– Have I had soul-feeding solitude before God yet today?

I am also taking Sundays and vacations off of social media.

The first question often sparks many others, like am I master of these appetites? Do my phone habits show how glorious He is? Am I using my phone as a refuge from today’s trials? Is it helping or hindering my spiritual goals? Am I getting on to boast in myself? Is it keeping me from fully enjoying the moment? Am I turning to my phone to be wowed and amazed? Am I dimming or reflecting His glory with my scrolling, comments, and postings? Am I turning myself and my kids into actors on the social media stage?

Reinke asks these and many other probing questions, while always pointing towards ultimate satisfaction in Christ (yes, he works for DesiringGod) and seeing phones and social media as technology that can be a God-honoring tool, a time-sucking idol, or a place to hide sin and propagate evil. His goal is to help Christians assess their phone habits to use them to glorify God and show the world how satisfying He is.

October

6 October Vollkornbrot 1
I tried to make vollkornbrot… but while the inside was right the crust was about a 1/2″ thick brick.

2 October Hebrew hard cider lattes 2
At home date night with homemade pumpkin spice chai lattes and leftover pie.

12 October 4
I am really not a fan of weather cooler than 70 so I am trying to find things to be thankful for and enjoy even when the forecast is not above 60. Like Fall colors, and the diversity of leaves, and more tea, and hot water washing dishes and sinking into bed in cotton flannel.
And yes, I had help filling the centerpiece. 😉

13 October leaf crafts and S oboe practice 3
Ellie is allowed to play with the pots and pans so sometimes I find odd items in the cupboard.

13 October leaf crafts and S oboe practice 5
“practicing oboe”

13 October leaf crafts and S oboe practice 7
I have daydreamed about this day since we found out Ellie was a girl. They frequently walk around holding hands now.

13 October leaf crafts and S oboe practice 9
Some crafts with leaves we pick up on our walks.

16 October corn maze and pumpkin patch 3
S navigating the corn maze for us. We tried to keep a fragile balance of creating some tension by giving her a goal of “get back to the car!” without scaring her that we were lost.
16 October corn maze and pumpkin patch 7

16 October corn maze and pumpkin patch 16
I love the variety in pumpkins and squash!

17 October Girls in leaves 8
Cousin J sent her boxes of clothes and S is in love with this pink coat.

17 October 2
A friend at church loaned me four cookbooks and we have been enjoying lots of yummy bread and other new recipes.

17 October 3
S was setting the table and dropped two of our rice bowls from Japan. We were both sad, her especially, since now there is no pink bowl.

19 October Apple testing
We did a taste test on 8 kinds of apples… and ended up deciding our favorites were pretty standard – Ezra’s is gala, mine is Fuji.

20 October 3
Got this basket for basically free at a rummage sale and it’s been holding the coffee table books more prettily and more out of the way from the littlest hands.

24 October girls sharing room 2
The girls are now sharing a room! It happened much more smoothly than anticipated, although Ellie still tries to cause trouble sometimes. She will try to play with S, and S will just lie there trying to sleep.

I don’t really talk about how we do baby sleep because I think that after safety is considered it’s between Ezra and I and not everyone where our kids sleep, when they sleep through the night, etc. I am happy to talk privately about what we do and why, just send me a message – the short, public answer is gentle and late sleep coaching.
But I write about the room move, as it’s a big day because it’s the first time in 3 years we have not had a crib in our room (it was empty for a while in Japan though).

26 October
Little shoes waiting outside to not track pine needles into the house.

27 October clamming 8
inspired by last weeks’ thousand readings of One Morning in Maine, we went clamming for the first time!

28 October clam chowder 2
Soaking

28 October clam chowder 3
Steaming. There were little tiny crabs in almost all the clams, which led to some temporary freaking out until Ezra did some research.

28 October clam chowder 10
Chowder!

30 October walking to library
Participating in fit2B’s walk thankful November… this was in the warming up days and I was thinking about the things I was thankful for while we walked to the library – for living in a small enough town that we can walk to the library (all the way across town but only a 45 minute walk!), and that Ezra’s schedule is flexible enough that we can remain a one-car family, podcasts to listen to, strength to walk hills, libraries full of books and wonder for the girls…

Hymns of the month// Children of the Heavenly Father // reviewing When He Cometh

favorite recipes// parsley pesto (I only like parsley in tabbouleh, but this is still yummy and SO much cheaper than basil pesto!) // sourdough crackers // 8 overnight oats recipes // yummy lentil salad // making apple cider vinegar // cookie dough overnight oats // mediterranean chicken pizza // chicken curry casserole // chorizo sweet potato skillet // Sunday beef stew // injera (Ethiopian flat bread) // soy-free soy sauce (actually works!) // peanut coconut chicken (yummy, NOT one pan… breading makes a ton of dishes if you don’t want to use a bag once) // no bake healthy fudge // long-ferment sourdough biscuits (a cross between a biscuit and croissant) // grain-free chocolate cookies // Lebanese stuffed butternut squash // pumpkin spice caramel smoothies – used milk + 2 Tbsp cocoa instead of coffee and threw in 2 dates // chocolate & nut butter fudge (there was almond butter in the bargain bin) //

+ a variety of recipes from Cultures for Health’s sourdough eBook, Jane Brody’s Good Food Gourmet, and The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book. I was somewhat participating in Unprocessed October and One Pot October.

best of online// thoughts on attitude of Mom in potty training // God is with you in your panic attack // Victoria’s Library // 17 Crafts to make with leaves // leaf crowns // Lecrae, White Evangelicalism, and Hope // age of accountability // Communion Table & Eating Disorders // how to support a friend through miscarriage // cleaning a boar bristle brush // at least as dangerous as porn // A Deeper Healing (Joni Eareckson Tada) // destroying your home with hardness of heart // Fantasy World Builder // 5 Parenting Myths // Every Good Mother Dies // Bach & Luther: Theology in Music // You can loosen your grip on the future // trade self-worth for awe //

reading of late// partway through The Lifegiving Table // The Hawk & The Dove // Humble Roots // finished (but not processed) 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You // Preemptive Love // The Cup & The Glory (harris) // finished The Hidden Smile of God (Piper) with Ezra // started Neptune’s Inferno with Ezra

Kids’ books we enjoyed//  a lot by Robert McCloskey and Patricia Polacco

what brings joy// finishing S’s quiet book // warmer days // golden light // 2 long dates in one week // PPD puzzle pieces clicking

Halloween Decor & Inquisitive Toddlers

(Our Autumn decor)

The girls and I go for walks almost every day, and while it’s usually my time to catch up on podcasts* I also end up answering a LOT of questions from S.**
Right now, a lot of those questions center around the decorations on houses in our neighborhood… Halloween decorations. Comments like “yuck” or squeals of not liking something she sees are thankfully less frequent than the questions of “What’s THAT?” but we have still ended up having to talk about Halloween sooner than anticipated.

Our current perspective is that of not participating in Halloween, but I think some of explaining decorations and interacting with toddlers about Halloween is the same regardless.

– A large portion of the time I respond just by saying “oh, that’s a hand, etc.” and leave it at that if she doesn’t say more. That way I can go back to my podcast and not have to be talking constantly (there are are tons of decked out houses around here!).

– If something is more silly than scary (like the green monster poster in one person’s window), I tell her it’s a silly face and we try to copy it.

– About once each walk I will explain more to her, whether it’s because she gets scared or just to jump at the opportunity to have a deeper conversation with her. It often goes something like this, although I know that this “script” projects motives on other people’s reasons for participating in Halloween that aren’t the same for everyone.

“People put [xyz] up because Halloween is a holiday that is celebrating death. They’re kind of saying that they aren’t afraid of the gross, scary things. But in some ways they should be, because death is real and not a joke and some places the yucky things are real. But we don’t have to be afraid of death or yucky things because Jesus conquered death. That doesn’t mean we should keep looking at these things or joke about death and what’s gory, though. These kinds of things aren’t what we should be filling our minds with because they aren’t good and lovely (Phil 4:8).”

I don’t say all of that every time and sometimes do more explaining of some words and concepts, but that’s a basic idea of how it goes. She doesn’t ask every time, and is often more interested in scarecrows and pumpkins (my explanation of scarecrows had to be repeated many times**). But I’ll still be thankful when the Halloween decorations come down (some people decorated the last Saturday in September!!!)… though I still won’t justify the few already-up-Christmas-decorations until after Thanksgiving!

*current favorites podcasts: Risen Motherhood, At Home with Sally, Mom on Purpose, The World and Everything in it, Pray the Word, Wild + Free, Storyformed.
S will ask “who is it podcast? Is it Sally Clarkson and Kristen Kill?”

**And learning that if she asks the same question twice it’s usually because I didn’t really answer her question. Sometimes she then asks “say that question again,” if she wants me to repeat my answer.

Gems from “Spurgeon’s Sorrows”

Digging through all my “PPD processing” documents (I realized a few months ago that I process by writing, so that means I have a number of Word documents that are compilations of quotes, scripture, journal entries, steps to take for healing, and other notes) I found a lot of quotes from the book, “Spurgeon’s Sorrows,” by Zack Eswine.
I read this book back in April, alongside Michael Card’s “A Sacred Sorrow,” and together they marked a turning point for me, the place where I finally realized I hadn’t been being completely honest with God about how I felt about Him, and that that was likely continuing the cycle of depression. A lot of this was due to the promises of God bringing no comfort, something that felt almost blasphemous to think, and I felt like I couldn’t tell anyone that because His promises were what were being offered to me as hope. But Eswine deals with that feeling in “Spurgeon’s Sorrows,” and that along with these other gems opened up the conversation with God again, allowing me to fully lament the way I was reading about it in Card’s book.
May these quotes encourage you and lead you towards reading the whole (little!) book.

“Grief is depression in proportion to circumstance; depression is grief out of proportion to circumstance.”

“Depression can so vandalize our joy and sense of God that no promise of His can comfort us in the moment, no matter how true or kindly spoken.”

“The sun may not rise for a few hours yet. But here amid the waiting hours, the sorrowing have a savior.”

“No matter how far you fall in your depression, the everlasting arms shall be lower than you are.”

“Hope demolished can become hope rebuilt, if it is realistic and rooted, not just in the cross and empty tomb but also in the garden and the sweat-like blood.”

“I am certain that I have seen more in the dark than ever I saw in the light, – more stars, most certainly, – more things in heaven if fewer things on earth.”

“The valley of the shadow of death is not our final destination” – Michael Jinkins

Waiting to Write

I have tried again and again to write posts about my experience with PPD after Ellie was born, but so far it has never felt like the right time to share or like I have found the right words. Lately I have begun to feel that that is because right now I’m supposed to wait to write those posts.

Waiting…
– to heal, and to be sure the struggle is over and that life is just “normal hard” now
– for the humility to make it about God and not my experience
– to hear or read words that help me heal and process
– for pieces of the puzzle I don’t yet have
– to “ripen on the Vine” (see chapter in Hannah Anderson’s Humble Roots)
– for the emotions to settle so that what I share can be beneficial for others and not just a pity party or a boast of ‘uniqueness.’
– to be distant enough from PPD that I can see some of what God’s purposes were

I still hope to share more about the ways God was faithful in the midst of PPD and how my understanding of depression, suffering, and the silence of God has changed and grown, but I don’t know when that will be as I’m still getting answers to some of my questions and learning which questions will not be answered in this life. I have pages and pages of writing I have done trying to process it all.

In the meantime, I will leave you with one of the most recent “puzzle pieces” – a quote from Spurgeon, who struggled with depression for a large portion of his life, giving his words credibility as someone that has wondered where God was. But I can only share it with the caveat that if I had read this in the midst of PPD I probably would have been upset by it. Only on the other side of the darkness can I attest to its truthfulness!

“When thy God hides His face, say not that He hath forgotten thee. He is but tarrying a little while to make thee love Him better; and when He cometh, thou shalt have joy in the Lord, and shalt rejoice with joy unspeakable.
Waiting exercises our grace; waiting tries our faith; therefore, wait on in hope; for though the promise tarry, it can never come too late.” – C. H. Spurgeon